Perseverance pays off as Chito Jaime puts together career game for Mahindra
Mahindra forward Chito Jaime had 15 points and 11 rebounds against NLEX in the finest game of his journeyman career. Jerome Ascano

WHAT do Bonbon Custodio, Kelvin Gregorio, Pong Escobal, TY Tang, and Cholo Villanueva have in common?

They were players drafted ahead of Chito Jaime in the 2008 PBA Rookie Draft, but are now out of the league, retired, or pursuing a new career path as coaches.

It’s Jaime who has stood the test of time – and his hard work and patience finally paid off on Friday as he delivered a career performance for Mahindra in the team’s 106-99 win over NLEX in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

While LA Revilla and Augustus Gilchrist took most of the spotlight, Jaime also had a hand in the victory as he registered his first-ever double-double with 15 points and 11 boards – both career-highs.

After Sta. Lucia selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft and played for the Realtors for two years, Jaime was reduced to a journeyman, playing in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) and Liga Pilipinas before returning to the PBA in 2011 by way of Rain or Shine.

Now, he has found a home in the Enforcers, where he has played since late 2014.

“Pinagtiyagaan ko lang lahat, kasi kung susuko ako, sayang lang 'yung pinaghirapan ko nung simula,” Jaime said in a short chat with after his career game. “Sa pagtiya-tiyaga ko, meron naman akong nakuha. Nag-bunga naman.”

[See LA Revilla says Mahindra starting to believe it can get the job done]

The 32-year-old forward especially prepared for this conference as he shed weight while keeping himself built to withstand the banging as he has been tasked to play the power forward spot occasionally.

“Medyo nagbawas ako ng timbang kasi gusto kong mas bumilis at medyo nagpalakas rin ng katawan kasi pinaglalaro ako ng big man, so kailangan makipag-banggaan sa ilalim,” the 6-foot-4 forward said.

But Jaime shrugged off his career game, saying he was just repaying coach Chito Victolero faith in him.

“Sinusunod ko lang kung ano 'yung utos ni coach: yung energy, hustle, at depensa, tapos sabi niya darating naman yung puntos,” said the soft-spoken cager, who had two three-pointers and one steal in 26 minutes as the starting small forward.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos